Counterfeit cosmetics 


Counterfeit Cosmetics: eau de awful


Buying discounted fragrance, skincare and makeup can be more dangerous than you could ever imagine.  The counterfeit cosmetic trade is on the rise and bargain beauty buyers need to be very, very aware.



This is an article which appeared in the Bazaar Beauty - Beauty Bulletin by Lucinda Mendel.


You're idly surfing around your favourite online auction site, looking for a little retail distraction, when you spy a batch of that cult cream you've been trying to rationalise buying.  And it's posted for sale at a fraction of the price it retails for at David Jones.  "Oh happy day!", you think, already mentally reinvesting the saving you'll be already making into yet another online purchase.  Luxury skincare, and for a steal, is but a courier delivery away.  It all seems to good to be true...


And it could be.  You may be unwittingly buying counterfeit product that's been cooked up in an illegal factory in Shanghai by exploited children in horrific conditions.  Then there's the real possibility that whatever lies within the fake packaging could leave you with a skin or eye irritation, serious allergies and ultimately a raft of bad feelings towards what you thought was your favourite brand.  Worse still, you could be seriously funding terrorism  and organised crime.  Seriously.  The International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) has evidence of established links between counterfeit trade and terrorist organisations such as al-Quaida, Hezboliah, and parliamentary groups in Northern Ireland.  Al-Quaida  training manuals have been uncovered which actually recommend the sale of counterfeit goods as a means to raise funds to finance terrorist operations.  As a result, European Customs and British authorities have traced at least 1000 crates of fake shampoo, creams and perfume back to an al-Quaida member once they had been intercepted en route from Dubai to Denmark.



For decades now, fashion brands and fragrance companies have been hit hard by counterfeit trade and it's an issue that's closely monitored by leading luxury goods conglomerates and international authorities of the highest order.  You may be think you are getting the real deal on (what looks like) Chanel No. 5 but consider this: while there may be a trace of the original scent inside the bottle, what you assume is fine fragrance is more like Eau de Awful.  Lab analysis has shown counterfeit perfumes to be made up of liquid fillers such as vodka, water and even urine (both animal and human), not to mention toxic chemicals.


As manufacturing capabilities grow even more sophisticated, the problem is effecting everyone, everywhere.  Counterfeit producers can and will copy anything they can get a sample of - the more coveted the brand the better - and have it for sale in next to no time.  In late December, more than $10 million worth of counterfeit Shiseido products were uncovered in a raid on an unlicensed factory in Guangzhou.  Officials discovered that almost the entire Shiseido range had been copied.  Closer to home. seizures are on the rise; a NSW Police raid on a Sydney warehouse unearthed $1 million worth of counterfeit perfumes - all names we know and love - along with fake soaps, shampoos and toothpaste.  Late last year customs seized a shipment of 4000 phoney Lancome lipsticks ready to hit the Sydney black market.  While the shape looked nothing like the real thing, the brand's logo was perfectly reproduced.  But then counterfeit goods do not need to be exact replicas to fool the consumer.  The lure of a beauty bargain can be so compelling to some that a buyer sees a design feature they recognise - such a the logo of the same text on the packaging - that can be convincing enough.


The ease and anonymity of e-tail has simply fuelled the counterfeit fire, with the Internet proving to be a remarkable safe haven where manufacturers and would-be terrorists can easily hawk their wares.  You might assume that because you have seen a brand or bought it on an established e-tailer such a eBay or Yahoo that it must be legit, yet both companies maintain they are simply marketplaces.  They don't see, control and even sell the goods directly so it's not uncommon to find a large amount of fake on their sties at any given moment.  While these e-tailers so have systems in place to remove suspect good - such as eBays Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) program - they do only when notified to do so by the brands themselves.  And it isn't always immediate, meaning hundreds if not thousands of sales can be proceed and dispatched before the dodgy products are removed from the site.


Fortunately for consumers, cosmetic brands are fighting back and pouring considerable resources into protecting their brand integrity and ultimately, their customer.  "it ha become a real issue for us, particularly as it is a threat to consumer safety", confirms Thierry Cheval, general manager of L'Oreal Paris's Luxury Products Division (Lancome's parent company).  "Counterfeit products do not comply with product standards of the original products they imitate. L'Oreal has invested a lot by putting a worldwide strategy in place; we have a department in Paris that can trace our products as well as identify and analyse counterfeit products from all over the world.  In Australia, we work closely with police and customs authorities and engage in seizure and prosecution by legal action.".


Another global giant Proctor & Gamble, has had a number of their brands imitated, from Pantene through to the company's jewel in the crown, cult Japanese brand SK-II.  In P&G's Kobe lab, state-of-the-art technology is now used to analyse the contents of imitation product, much of which is SK-II, so that the brand knows exactly what it's dealing with and can inform both staff and media.



When it comes to counterfeit production China is without a doubt the main offender, though Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia, Mexico, India, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and the Untied Arab Emirates are just some of the countries listed on the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition's watch list.  In China, labour remains cheap, plentiful and unregulated, authorities are relatively lax compared with the rest of the world, and despite counterfeit manufacturing being illegal, it's not a crime to export the goods.  In fact, savvy operators are bypassing the authorities by shipping parts separately and assembling and distributing the goods in the import country.


With it's vast population and more flexible trade conditions, China has become the coveted market for beauty brands to crack.  When a foreign brand wants to export to China they need to go through an extensive process, pay several thousands of dollars as a start-up fee and - here's where the problem begins - provide a complete manufacturing dossier detailing ingredients and formulae.  Industry suggests that the authorities then pass on both the dossier and the product to local manufacturers to copy, no doubt for a healthy kickback.  A number of companies still keen to break into the Chinese market simply go through the process yet submit a doctored dossier including slightly altered formulae to protect their investment, the brand and its products.


Aside from the economic issues associated with the counterfeit trade - its estimated to be worth more than $800 billion annually and accounts for almost 10 per cent of global trade - the potential health risks are the overriding concern.  Cosmetic companies go through rigorous toxicology testing in order to protect their customer and confidently place their products onto the market.  But when you buy suspect cosmetics from a suspect website or an unauthorised retailer, you don't have the same safeguard.  Nor are you protected by Australian consumer laws, meaning you're unable to return or exchange products.


The only way of ensuring that you're not buying counterfeit cosmetics is either purchase directly from a known retailer or a brand or retailer's website.  Be wary of sites which offer a seemingly random selection of a brand's products or those that advertise heavily discounted prices as the stock could well be suspect, damaged, or way past its expiry date.  Cheap is as cheap does. ●



During a general conversation it become apparant that some of YOU our loyal and regular clients have been a little misguided and we feel it is our responsibility to you to educate you in this massive growing matter.

The beauty industry is going head to head with illegal and counterfeit manufacturers.  However, unless you the consumer are educated in what is happening this will continue and many consumers  - and we do not want YOU to be one of them - will be buying fake, imitations of products.  This has a massive consequence on consumers as, despite this happening for many years in the clothing, footwear, and perfume trade - the local markets are full of these items - we could be applying fake, imitation product to be absorbed into our bodies at a massive consequence
Did you know that the e-tailing trade sells more fake product than anywhere else? 
In the beauty industry, we know for a fact, that certain websites are selling fake imitation product


How do we know this?

Because Dermalogica has become one of the fasted growing products to fake, conterfeit , reproduce out there.  Dermalogica have invested massive amounts of time, energy and money into pursuing the counterfeit trade primarily coming from Asian shores - however there are now becoming just as many of them in Australia.  There is an operation in place is attempt to crack this market but, just as with many much larger global companies they seem to be fighting a losing battle read more...


Would you go to the markets and buy your favourite brand perfume?

Well that is exactly what you are doing when you buy online from these suppliers. Be wary of sites which offer a seemingly random selection of a brand's products or those that advertise heavily discounted prices as the stock could well be suspect, damaged, or way past its expiry date.  Cheap is as cheap does. read more...



Northmead Beauty Therapy is a proud authorised online e-tail supplier of genuine and authentic products to consumers Australia-wide.


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